Great Bull Run

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Exploiting animals in bull runs disregards animal welfare in pursuit of a cheap thrill and a quick profit. In the past few years, the Great Bull Run, LLC, a business venture started by two former attorneys, has held these dangerous and cruel Pamplona-style events across the country. ALDF has been an outspoken opponent from the beginning—and on March 10, 2015 settled a lawsuit, filed jointly with PETA, against the Great Bull Run for allegedly violating animal protection laws. As a result of that lawsuit, the Great Bull Run has agreed never to return to the state of California.

During the Great Bull Run, organizers send as many as three dozen panicked bulls, weighing nearly one ton each, barreling down a narrow track at up to thirty-five miles per hour, chasing fleeing runners—many of whom have been drinking alcohol. Not surprisingly, Great Bull Run events have sent participants to the hospital. Veterinary experts have criticized bull runs for causing unnecessary suffering and stress to animals. “As a bovine veterinarian, I can confirm that these bull runs are extremely stressful for the bulls and present substantial risk of injury to them, as well as an enormous public safety risk to the humans participating,” said Dr. Holly Cheever, veterinarian and vice president of the New York State Humane Association.

What does the law say? California’s Penal Code makes it unlawful to cause any bull to fight with a human or to subject any animal to needless suffering, which bull runs do. California also bans the promotion and exhibition of bulls in “bloodless bullfights” and similar events, which ALDF and PETA contended includes the Great Bull Run.

Despite state anti-cruelty laws, and danger to animals and humans, the events continued. In November 2013, the New York Times quoted the Great Bull Run’s chief operating officer, Rob Dickens, as saying “we need to crank up the danger,” even though two people had just been injured in a bull run in Georgia—one with a pelvis broken in several places after being trampled by a bull. In 2014, the Great Bull Run was forced to cancel its Southern California event after three separate municipal governments denied it the necessary permits, citing safety issues. ALDF and PETA’s settlement means the Great Bull Run will never again return to California.

This case exemplifies why animals need legal advocates like ALDF and our supporters. Our lawsuit used the strength of the law to call on the courts to prevent these cruel events in California, and thanks to the hard work of our team and supporters like you, we did just that. ALDF will keep a close eye on any future event the Great Bull Run holds in other states.

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